Monday, 10 July 2017

The Late Show by Michael Connelly Review


Michael Connelly is labelled a “thriller” writer and it used to be an accurate description for a lot of his books. Ten years ago I loved novels like The Lincoln Lawyer, The Scarecrow and Echo Park for their fast-paced plots with Connelly throwing his characters into tense situations against murderers and sadists. Alas, that’s not the Michael Connelly of today who only seems capable of robotically churning out dull police procedurals like The Late Show. 

Detective Renee Ballard works the graveyard shift (aka “The Late Show”) in Los Angeles. In this book she’s faced with finding the killer responsible for a nightclub shooting and a sicko who beats up trans-hookers. Sound exciting? Not in Connelly’s hands it isn’t! 

Connelly has a real problem with characters, as in he doesn’t really know how to write any memorable ones. They’re all bland, two-dimensional puppets. Ballard could easily be Bosch or Mickey Haller and the supporting cast are just interchangeable archetypes: the police chief, the reporter, the lawyer, the nurse, etc.; their names don’t matter. 

Meanwhile the weak patchwork story moves at a disappointingly sluggish pace. Almost all of the book is made up of dreary, pointless scenes full of the most uninteresting detail of modern day police work. I can’t overemphasise how little I care about police procedure so it really sucked having to read about so much of it. 

The scene where Ballard is one-on-one with the sadist in his home was momentarily exciting - the Connelly of old appearing all too briefly. Also, generally speaking he can write convincing dialogue and I buy that this is how LA cops talk. But it’s precious little in an overwhelmingly un-thrilling novel bloated with tedious, trivial and instantly forgettable detail. 

Utterly pedestrian, uninspired and boring, The Late Show is Michael Connelly on autopilot - definitely not worth picking up unless you go in for the driest of dry police procedurals. If you want to read some fantastic Connelly novels that’ll grab and hold your attention the whole time, check out the novels I mentioned at the top of the review.

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